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Things to Do in Messina

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Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani (Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani)
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11 Tours and Activities

This stunning example of 12 and 13th century religious architecture is one of the most-prized landmarks in all of Messina. That’s because a 1908 earthquake leveled much of the city but let this prestigious structure untouched. Today, Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani (Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani) is used as a church for the nearby University, but travelers can still visit the place and take in much of its original splendor.

From the western entrance, travelers will find three ancient doors that decorate a remarkably well-preserved façade. Once inside, they’ll be greeted by towering Corinthian columns in yellow, white and red stone. An iconic statue of Don Juan of Austria—with his foot standing atop the head of Ali Bassa, an Ottoman leader—is located towards the rear of the church.

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Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno)
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15 Tours and Activities

The powerful figure of Neptune appears in many fountains around Italy, including the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno) in Messina. The Messina version was completed in 1557 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli.

Montorsoli designed the Neptune figure to face the city of Messina from its original position near the harbor. The fountain was moved to its currently location in Piazza dell’Unità after it was damaged.

Neptune stands above a tiered fountain in the Messina square, holding his signature trident over the sculpted figures of two sea monsters representing two particularly treacherous rocks near Messina’s harbor. Neptune’s hand originally reached toward the city in a gesture of protection, though in the fountain’s current location his arm reaches toward the sea. Many tours of Messina’s city center include a stop at the fountain.

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Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina)

The Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina), set in the busy port city on the narrow Strait of Messina, is many cruisers’ first taste of Sicily. The closest Sicilian city to mainland Italy and a popular port of call for Mediterranean and European cruises, Messina offers striking architecture, flavorful street food, and easy access to Taormina, Mount Etna, and other Sicilian sights.

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Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock (Orologio Astronomico)
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Each day at noon, a crowd gathers beneath the bell tower of Messina’s Cathedral to watch as the gilded statues on the astronomical clock seem to come to life. As the bells chime, the lion roars, the rooster crows, statues strike the hour, and mechanical figures replay biblical and allegorical scenes. It's a spectacle no tourist should miss.

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